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#4349: Gilles Danroc's 1997 Analysis of Haiti's Predicament (fwd)
From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>
"For Political Renewal"
by Jean Delille, nom de plume of Gilles Danroc
Haiti en Marche Vol. XI No. 23
Published July 16, 1997
My double statement that: "The failure of René Préval
would be the failure of Jean Bertrand Aristide" and "The
elections of April 6, 1997 underline the failure of the
Lavalas Movement born of the elections of December 16,
1990" triggered a voluminous mail to me. These
statements require more clarification as the situation
deteriorates further and a feeling of drift predominates in
Haiti. The country sinks deeper into anarchy and more
aggravating, one does not see how the real people might
re-mobilize effectively and redefine themselves. The
centrifugal forces of division and indeed of destruction are,
more often than not unconsciously, in full swing in the
culture and society.
This is the consequence of the actions of the political
establishment, in its old and new components, that is
headed in the wrong directions except for a few cases.
I state this without partiality. This is a cold statement
made without pressure from any one or resulting from
my fealty to any party. The only personal note I can add
is that I make it with great sadness for the politicians are
cutting the branch Haiti is sitting on.
History will note this huge deception as well as the great
responsibility of certain people: How could the hope
raised on February 7, 1986, December 16, 1990, and
indeed October 15, 1994 result in the current impasse?
How and why did we end up in this immense mess?
Nothing has been built, there is no solid base from which
to face the future. Above all, one can state that the living
conditions of the majority, especially the poorer segments,
have deteriorated. This is compounded by insecurity which
prevents the taking of initiatives toward a better future
and undermines all social forces.
The first criterion for this double statement relates to the
daily life of people. And this conclusion further rests on the
permanence of the Haitian political reflex in spite of the
events cited above:
-- The political class does not want to organize the people
in order to monopolize power, a power whose nature and
culture is more personal than democratic.
--The elections of April 6 have put the spotlight on this
behavior and the recorded reactions demonstrate that the
two democratically-elected presidents are in total agreement
on bypassing the mediating role of political parties.
Yet the alternative to organized parties -- once more, in spite
of a few attempts, I do not see any in the field representing all
the regions of the nation and therefore I am not partial to any --
can be clearly discerned from the experience of people hoping
for liberation. The former Zaire, Cambodia, the Congo, Sierra
Leone make the point: "Without political parties with a national
scope, democracy degenerates into personal power, into the
uncontrolled, nefarious, and limitless influence of the leaders'
entourage. Real decentralization does not take place and
the people without guidance demobilize. Corruption grows
without hindrance because popular control cannot be applied
Furthermore, this fact which is straightforward and
perceived by all is compounded by another that is equally
serious. There are very few real popular organizations with
a democratic culture and behavior. Furthermore, the
popular "organizations" do not play their proper role,
a constructive role, within Haitian society. Given the
political vacuum, they behave like political parties which
they are not, dictating their choice to the president of the
republic as for instance in the case of the prime minister
as if there were no constitution nor parliament. For its
part, parliament lacks real parties and does not play its role.
As a result, observers propose absurdly to all those too
willing to listen Manigat or Bazin as prime minister without
the backing of senators or deputies, in contempt of the
constitution. Even the name of Jean-Claude Duvalier is
bandied about. Thus we are wallowing in half-baked
schemes and amateurism, thus wasting precious time
that could be used for the construction of Haiti.
Recent events have proven this, including the slowness
in approving an active government for the country. The two democratically-elected presidents who have stated their
respect of the constitution do not use the means necessary
to implement participative democracy.
This is what I mean by failure or failures. For both symbolize
the new political class that emerged from the December 16,
1990 elections and the following elections except for the
The first thinks he can crystallize the Haitian people through
his name. Thus strengthened by this power of crystallization,
which is not the same as power from organization, he believes
he can pull the country out of the social, political and economic
mess it finds itself in. And this without taking into account the
importance of culture, a Haitian culture that has always
accommodated leaders while incapable of building a national
economy, which is the challenge of today's politics.
The second refuses to distance himself from the first on
most important matters related to the economy and the
necessary change to the nature of the state and power.
He thinks that with the support of a few dedicated
militants one can implement political changes.
As we approach the end of the century, a time when
economics has invaded world culture, neither can succeed.
Unless there is a necessary awakening. We need to change
the nature of power, to give life to democracy from the
grassroots, in all necessary institutions, even to its utopian
The Haitian political reflex remains the same, in spite of all
the changes the country went through, for to wish to smash
the people or to wish them well without them, is to ignore
them and to delay gravely the real popular participation,
organized and national, capable of pulling the country out
of the misery, violence and fear of the future that degrade
To lean on an entourage that will sooner or later turn
rapacious -- this is a law of modern history -- is to refuse
to trust the people, to continue believing that they
cannot take charge. There is still time to step out of
this infernal spiral without an exit, to play the game of
democracy, not only the democracy of respect for laws
and the constitution that we only pay lip service to.
The immediate challenges, albeit simple, are most important:
1. Demonstrate that Haiti can organize honest elections.
2. Encourage the creation of real political parties in the
majority and opposition within the context of the constitution
(democratic parties covering the whole nation and proposing
detailed, numbered, precise programs of government).
3. Promote genuine decentralization and mobilize the
population behind it.
4. Organize a national debate on the state and the economy
while making sure it does not degenerate into a struggle to
carve out the state as one would a cake.
5. Launch a real national participative campaign against
corruption and for the clean-up and effectiveness of the
6. Organize the nation for enhanced security by joining the
forces of a streamlined national police with those of
neighborhood committees. The government and parliament
should spell out the framework for their role.
7. Implement by decree without delay the recommendations
of the National Commission for Truth and Justice.
8. Make public all salaries in the state sector from the
president on down and demand that all candidates and
elected officials make public their assets at the beginning
and end of their terms.
9. Implement an agrarian reform that would strive for increased
Nine measures to be implemented immediately and with utmost
priority and a real political will so that the political establishment
and the civil society to be organized may stimulate one another.
Then and only then, February 6 and December 16 will mark a true
Then and only then, Haiti will regain hope.